9 FAQs About Allergy Relief

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on June 09, 2020

1. What will my doctor do to help my allergies?

First they'll figure out what you’re allergic to.

They'll examine you and ask for your medical history and your family’s allergy history. Then they may do a series of skin or blood tests to see what you have a reaction to. That’ll help decide which treatment you should take.

Or they may suggest a medicine that can help no matter what you're allergic to. They can often help with reactions to pollen, dust, perfumes, plants, or animal dander.

2. How do steroid nasal sprays work?

With allergies, your nasal passages and sinuses get inflamed when you come in contact with things like pollen, animal dander, or dust mites. These sprays can make you start to feel better and are often the first treatment recommended by doctors.

Nasal steroid sprays start working within a few hours but may take several days or weeks to take full effect. Make sure you use it every day.


3. Do allergy shots work?

Yes, over time. They help if you’re allergic to pet dander, pollen, dust mites, certain molds, and bee stings. They work by injecting a tiny amount of what you’re allergic to under your skin.

At first, you’ll get shots once or twice a week. That will change to about once a month for some time. Gradually, your body gets used to what you’re allergic to and you start to feel better.

The FDA has also approved four under-the-tongue tablets you can take at home. The prescription tablets, called Grastek, Odactra, Oralair, and Ragwitek, help with hay fever. They work the same way as shots -- by boosting your tolerance of what you’re allergic to.

4. What other medicines help?

Antihistamines and decongestants can make you less stuffy.

Antihistamines help sneezing, itching, congestion, and runny nose. Decongestants help to shrink blood vessels to keep nasal passages open and keep fluid from leaking into the lining of your nose.

Some medicines combine both types. Read the label to understand the side effects. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.


5. How do I avoid things that trigger my symptoms?

Get rid of those things at home and work. Look for possible triggers like pet dander, dust mites, cold air (from an air conditioning vent or ceiling fan), cigarette smoke, perfume or other scented products, and aerosols. Pay attention to pollen counts, too.

If you have both allergies and asthma, use an air filtration system at home.

6. What's the difference between an allergy and an allergen?

The allergen is the thing you’re allergic to. With an allergy, you may sneeze, cough, wheeze, itch, or have a skin rash.

7. What are some common allergens?

The ones that cause most trouble are:

8. What if I have symptoms just a few weeks a year?

You probably have seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever. Blame trees in the spring, grasses in summer, or weeds in the early fall. Outdoor mold also can cause it, too.


9. Both my partner and I have allergy symptoms all the time. Will our baby have allergies, too?

It’s more likely. If one parent has allergies, the child has a 50% chance of having them. If both parents have allergies, the odds are higher. But it’s not just from Mom and Dad. Respiratory infections, air pollution, and diet may play a role.

WebMD Medical Reference



American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Allergy and Asthma Medication Guide."

Medline Plus: "Mometasone Nasal Inhalation."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Allergy Testing for Children."

News release, FDA.

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